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It’s junket season again in Massachusetts

on 15 Comments

The time of year when Massachusetts legislators enjoy an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel is again upon us.  Once again a lobbying group, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), is planning the itinerary.

According to JCRC executive director Jeremy Burton, over the past five years he has personally accompanied almost a third of the entire Massachusetts legislature on trips to Israel and has been able to “watch firsthand as our participants fall in love with the leaders and activists who’ve inspired and energized me for years.”

Soon after they return, the 12 state legislators participating in the current JCRC junket may vote on anti-BDS legislation the JCRC has said it intends to introduce in the new legislative section, beginning in January.

The stakes this time are particularly high, given the fact that two previous efforts to enlist the Massachusetts legislature in the anti-BDS brigade were de-railed by spirited activism spearheaded by the Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine, JVP- Boston and Massachusetts Peace Action: first in March of this year and then again in July.

This legislative trip may seem like an obvious conflict of interest, but the state Ethics Commission does not see it that way.  It rejected the ethics complaint filed by Massachusetts Peace Action after JCRC took a quarter of the state Senate to Israel last year following a Senate vote on a pro-Israel resolution.

It is not clear if the touring legislators will cross paths with the Massachusetts governor, Charles Baker, who leaves for Israel on December 9 on his first international trade mission.

He will be accompanied by scores of government officials and private sector businessmen on a journey reportedly subsidized by the New England-Israel Business Council with the support of Combined Jewish Philanthropies.  Last month Combined Jewish Philanthropies paid  $25,000 for five Baker aides to visit Israel to prepare for the governor’s trip.

Governor Baker has already paid his ‘anti-BDS’ dues: he is a signatory of the American Jewish Committee-sponsored Governors’ Letter that characterizes BDS as a “virulent movement” seeking to “demonize” Israel.

And will the Massachusetts governor and legislators bump into the Boston police commissioner and law enforcement agents who are on yet another junket, this one sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)?

The ADL – which in 1993 was revealed to have been conducting a massive spying operation on Arab Americans and other supporters of Palestinian rights and activists opposing South African Apartheid – now offers annual trips to Israel for law enforcement to hone their ‘counterterrorism’ skills.

On December 5, Commissioner William Evans left on their latest eight-day “security trip.”  The Boston Herald reported that Evans and other trip participants will “learn first hand how counterterrorism is handled there.”

“We’ll hopefully learn something and take it back here,” Evans told The Herald.

This is an ominous prospect.

Given the calamitous rate at which police forces are militarizing in the US and the epidemic of police killings, especially of Black men, the last thing US police forces need is exposure to the IDF’s stunningly lax ‘shoot to kill’ regulations.

As for Boston, its police force is already armed with military assault rifles and invasive spy gear like the cell phone tracking ‘sting rays.’ It already maintains a regional intelligence ‘fusion center’ in which are stored ‘suspicious activity reports’ on dissenters engaged in First Amendment activity and people of Middle Eastern or Muslim appearance. It is currently planning to spend $1.4 million on a software tool which will enable it to do complex social media surveillance.

The last thing Boston needs is training in Israeli-style racial profiling and surveillance, and in the violent suppression of nonviolent popular resistance such as that taking place on a weekly basis in the West Bank village of Bil’in.   And the last thing Massachusetts needs is the ‘Israel, right or wrong’ mentality and casual corruption that these junkets promote.

Nancy Murray

Nancy Murray is a member of the Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine and has been an activist for peace with justice in the Middle East since 1988 when she paid her first visit to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

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15 Responses

  1. hophmi on December 6, 2016, 1:48 pm

    Why do you think that these trips have an impact? Could it possibly be that the picture of Israel that people like you paint has no relationship to reality?

    • eljay on December 6, 2016, 3:14 pm

      || hophmi: Why do you think that these trips have an impact? Could it possibly be that the picture of Israel that people like you paint has no relationship to reality? ||

      Exactly the same argument could be made that all-expenses-paid trips to Iran would have an impact because the picture of Iran that people like you paint has no relationship to reality.

      It would be like this – The Truth About Visiting Iran – but even more “impactful”.

    • Maghlawatan on December 6, 2016, 4:47 pm

      Nice try, Hoppy.
      Miss Israel 2014

      • Kay24 on December 6, 2016, 5:46 pm

        I have watched this a few times and find it unbelievable that a human being can be so spiteful and vicious, and her expression reflects the meanness inside her. I am impressed that her victim was able to tolerate it, because her taunting could have made even a reasonable person lose it and retaliate. They steal the lands, ill treat the Palestinians, and then taunt them. The beast is on the outside.

    • Kay24 on December 6, 2016, 5:43 pm

      Here is some reality for you Hoppy, this should make any reasonable person mad, and it clearly shows that Israel is by itself doing a fine job of painting the ugly image it has earned by these cruel acts, and why it is so disliked in the entire world. You cannot keep occupying, stealing, making innocent people suffer, and expect the world to see you as a beacon of light. Get real now.

    • oldgeezer on December 6, 2016, 7:44 pm

      Two words hoppy.


  2. MHughes976 on December 6, 2016, 3:34 pm

    Warm welcomes and the sense of being an honoured guest can rather warp reality. I can remember when trips to the Soviet Union created a warm glow.

  3. pabelmont on December 6, 2016, 5:13 pm

    Hi Nancy, good to hear from you again.

    Do you suppose the national Democratic Party membership (not establishment) opinion favoring sanctions against Israel w.r.t. settlements holds true also in Massachusetts? And if so, do these junketing Solons know? Or care?

  4. Kay24 on December 6, 2016, 5:48 pm

    So will there be nude swims, drunken binges, and the shameless politicians given such a great time, that they are beholden to their hosts?

    • JWalters on December 6, 2016, 7:59 pm

      Carrots and sticks, money and photos.

      • Kay24 on December 7, 2016, 6:42 am

        There will be some end to it if some courageous politician tells the American people exactly what entails this unwavering support for the occupier, and why they are given this free bee and it seem the only nation to do so.

      • Maghlawatan on December 7, 2016, 8:52 am

        Why do people need to go to Israel to support Israel? Is hasbara not working? Do the Israelis gather sensitive info on politicians while they are being whined and dined? Do Shin Bet torturers threaten to rape siblings of politicians?Or is that just for Palestinians? Do politicians even think to themselves how ludicrous Zionism is?

    • RoHa on December 7, 2016, 4:06 am

      If gratitude doesn’t make them beholden, the video will. It will clearly show how young that girl/boy/sheep is.

  5. Maghlawatan on December 6, 2016, 10:45 pm

    How much are they spending fighting BDS? It’s all top down. Buying legislators. Because they have given up on social media.
    There’s always a crack where the light gets through.
    #BDS gets 85m hits on Google.
    If every Zionist in the world was roped in to fight it, each would be allocated 6 or so.

    There just aren’t enough Zionists in the world to control social media and by definition the evolving narrative.

  6. Jasonius Maximus on December 7, 2016, 9:49 am

    I wish they’d stop calling them Junkets and start calling it by its real name… Hasbara Holidays!

    Happy Hasbara Holidays, to all our elected sellouts who call themselves patriots, yet are bought by their rich donors and a foreign nation for nothing more than a cheap vacation, a case of crappy wine and some Dead Sea skin products.

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